I’ve been listening to a lot of Classical lately. It started from my fascination with “Comptine d’un autre été: L’après-midi” by French composer Yann Tiersen. The title of the song translates to “Nursery Rhyme of Another Summer: The Afternoon.”
Listening to the song, brings me back to my recent summer in the Philippines. After one and a half year of living here in the United States, I found myself on A380 Asiana Airlines plane with frozen strawberry-chocolates as my pasalubong to my family in Iloilo.
I only spent two days there at my childhood home then again whisked away to a different province, for the most coveted and exciting travel to Palawan. One of Earth’s finest piece of land. A coral paradise.
Boasting beaches as one of the best in the world, white sand and azure waters. It is said to be the “Last Ecological Frontier” emphasizing and maintaining natural harmony, balance, respect and oneness with nature.
Underground River in Puerto Princesa is also listed as one of 7 New Wonders of Nature and a UNESCO World Heritage. Do I need to say more? Wink. Enough of this yada-yada. I want to show you instead.
We had a five days long trip. First day went to our flight from Iloilo to Puerto Princesa Airport. Lunch on our way to El Nido. Our second and third day, we did the Tour A and C, respectively. Traveled back to Puerto Princesa by night. On our fourth morning, we had our Underground River Tour and by the next day, traveled back to Iloilo around noon.
Rates are in Philippine Pesos.
El Nido Island Hopping Tour A
Tour A-1,200 x 5pax = 6,000
7 Commando Beach
(with buffet lunch, boat transfer,entrances,licensed tour guide, insurance fee,medicine kit)
Environmental Fee – 200 x 5pax = 1000
El Nido Island Hopping Tour C
Tour C- 1,400 x 5pax=7,000
(with lunch buffet,license tour guide, entrance, boat transfer,environmental fee,insurance fees,medicine kit)
Underground River Tour (Included in 7 wonders of nature)
Underground Tour-2,200 x 5pax =11,000
Environmental Fee-150 x 5pax= 750
(with lunch buffet,boat transfer,van transport,tour guide,medicine kit,gov’t taxes)
We were extremely lucky to see the Underground River since many others just right after our turn, weren’t able to because of the bad weather. So if you don’t have a flexible trip, you can miss it. But don’t fret, this is only for your safety.
EL NIDO ISLANDS
PUERTO PRINCESA UNDERGROUND RIVER
ON A LOOK-OUT FOR A TRUSTED TRAVEL AGENCY IN PALAWAN?
If you were like me, who wants to have a carefree travel and have a trip which is all laid down? But at the same time, needed to have a valid contact that is certified and can be trusted especially when it comes to payments. Online, there are a lot of travel agencies but not everyone can really prove they are real.
So here it is. The travel agency that catered to our needs and also by visiting to their Facebook account, you can see their reliability. For those abroad, you can contact them or send a private message on Messenger. Here is the link: Mary Macrine Peneyra (Allan N Mackie Travel & Tours) You can add her as a friend to see El Nido and Underground River photos, inquire and negotiate. She can tailor your trip on how and the way you want it, and can give you the estimate costs.
Mackie is the one on the right side with her tongue sticking out. She has a fun vibe, pleasant and have a lighthearted nature. It’s family owned business, she and her husband became our tourist guides, just to personally take care of our needs. They have handled a lot of clients (Japanese, Spaniards, Germans, Filipinos from United States and many others). You can set arrangements with them anytime or tell them if you have a specific hotel and itinerary in mind. Here is their Local Contact Number: 0917-553-2055
TIPS BEFORE YOUR TRIP TO PALAWAN
- Buy aqua shoes. Palawan has a lot of corals which is why this is a paradise. On the downside, if you’re not wearing protective shoes, you will get scrapes, blunt injuries on your feet, might as well invest for this much needed aqua shoes.
- Take Bonamine and bring other medicine just in case. Bonamine is for motion sickness, a drug found in the Philippines. Take it an hour before the ride. Two days were spent for traveling time between Puerto Princesa and El Nido. Five to six hours on a very zigzagging road and I’m telling you this literally. You can stop by in Puerto Princesa to buy what you need like medicine, candies, snacks, bottled water and Gatorade (for re-hydration). The climate of the Philippines is hot. Better sure and prepared than sorry.
- Prepare cash for the whole EL Nido Trip. There are a few yet limited ATM Machines in El Nido. You can find them, in the market or where the stores are. But I strongly advise to prepare cash in advance in Puerto Princesa just to be extra sure. Hitting the road, the local restaurants and stores might not accept credit cards.
- Buy a protective (waterproof) bag for your camera and phones. Please do not risk your gadgets falling in the sea water. It happens often and the whole day trips to the islands. You will be mostly immersed on the water, 75 percent of the time. You can buy one in the stores in El Nido. If you’re one of the unlucky ones, turn if off and remove the batteries immediately. Wait until you can get a chance and immerse your phone or camera in a bucket full of uncooked rice. Do not get tempted to only open after twenty-four hours. The rice absorbs the water so this is your best shot. It works most of the time.
- Tour packages. They are provided by many travel agencies in the province, fees are usually fixed with inclusions and lunch are provided by the boat staff. There are Tour A, B, C and D in El Nido. Then Underground River Tour Package in Puerto Princesa. I haven’t been in Coron yet but just look it up online. Tour A and C are the most picked or the favorite packages out of 4, for those who are planning for a short trip. One tour package, usually runs around 9 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon. But there are also combo packages that combines the best destinations of Tour A and C. All you need to do is negotiate and ask if it is doable.
- Tour Packages A or C? Package A is for those who are not very adventurous and just wanting to take in the beauty of El Nido without much work (swimming much). Package C is for those who wants to move more, swim around and if the currents are tricky and playful, then have the best moment and unforgettable fun of your life.
I had mine in the coral paradise spot near Matinloc Shrine. I didn’t went up there at the top of the Shrine. Instead, I paddled my way with a few others and had my visit with the beautiful world – under.
I will never forget the first time I indulged myself how it must feel like underwater. Corals and fishes were “in the zone” and bursting with many different colors, it was so vividly alive and surreal. I get to see Nemo doing his everyday thing and totally on his element fuddling at his house.
The cliffs under my feet were out of this world, with their varying heights, they have that imposing presence as if watching your every move into their territory. Its strange pull, has a strong influence to me.
I’ve seen the mysterious deep blackness under as if there is no end to it. It was that ominously deep that somehow scared me when I was glancing down. Schools of fish mimicking our busy streets or the hurrying of the passengers in the airports. They didn’t mind us, we were only mere foreigners to their world. Welcomed outsiders.
I didn’t have a camera to capture it all – which I guess was the best part. The experience of a lifetime. I get to have it captured by my own memory and I was just fully immersed by the experience. One thing you have to remember in the water is to relax and be one with it. Don’t fight its loving soothing arms… caress it in return. Swim and kiss it.